The Mission civic election is in full swing – election day is Oct. 15 – and one of the key parts of the ballot is a vote for who sits on school board.
The race for mayor and council garners most of the attention with voters during an election campaign, but it’s still important to look into who is running to be a school trustee.
But what exactly does a school trustee do for the Mission School District?
Well, what they don’t do is intervene if you don’t agree with a mark your child received from a teacher – that’s actually something some parents think trustees are responsible for.
Mission trustee Randy Cairns says there are other misconceptions that parents have about trustees.
“Things like put speed bumps by schools to slow traffic or more radar,” Cairns told the Record. “We do not get to put speed bumps -that would be municipal or highways, and while we can request radar, it is a decision of RCMP and resources. We do direct inquries to the right designation but there is a misconception at times on what we control.”
Boards of education co-govern school districts with the provincial government.
B.C.’s Ministry of Education sets the curriculum, funding and legal framework for K-12 education.
“Trustees on a board of education work together to govern the school district and set direction on behalf of the community,” reads a post on the Mission School District site.
The School Act outlines the role of trustees and boards of education, including:
Attending board meetings
Setting school district policy
Employing school district staff
Managing school district budgets
Hearing appeals where a staff decision affects the education, health or safety of a student
School trustees in Mission earn just under $17,000 a year, while the board vice-chair earns a little over $18,000 and the board chair makes $19,995.
“Trustees are community leaders,” reads a post on the school district website. “Trustees work with their board and community partners to ensure that all the students within the board’s jurisdiction have equal opportunities to reach their maximum potential. While members of the board act as representatives of their constituency, their primary job is to participate in policy making and strategic planning in the interests of the district’s students. Trustees are grounded in promoting student achievement and well-being. Successful trustees manage to balance their governance role with the representative role, participating in decision-making that benefits the whole board while representing the interests of their constituents.”
Some trustees in B.C. have spoken out about wanting more control over the funding school districts receive.
When asked if trustees should be given additional powers, Cairns said this: “As to more powers, I do not think we need more powers, just more co-operation and collaboration with government. The BCSTA and the Minister of Education have a memorandum of understanding on co-governance – after all, the minister is the honourary president of the BCSTA, not entirely sure why – so having better collaboration on the MOU would go a long way to improving at the least some of all district facility concerns and a more timely process on new school builds.”